Prostate cancer support group

STAMPING OUT STIGMA: Stuart Cushing has started a prostate cancer support group.
STAMPING OUT STIGMA: Stuart Cushing has started a prostate cancer support group.

After being diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer, Timaru's Stuart Cushing knows the emotional upside of talking through his experience.

The 51-year-old is starting a support group to try to break down the stigma associated with prostate cancer.

"It's a very personal thing and, unlike women, men don't really like to talk about it . . . there's a lot of stigma out there," he said.

Cushing is grateful his cancer was discovered following a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test in 2013. "I got a call the next day from my doctor asking me to come in. When I was diagnosed I thought, ‘that's it, I'm going to die now'."

There were several options and he is now looking on the bright side. "It doesn't always have to end up being bad. Having the PSA blood test saved my life. If I hadn't had the test and they hadn't found it, I was told I probably wouldn't have been around in five years." Cushing said he would travel to Christchurch to attend support group meetings. "I thought it was important to have some support for men locally."

He had support from the local Cancer Society and Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand to set up the group. "It's a chance for existing and newly-diagnosed prostate cancer patients to meet and discuss issues with other sufferers and professionals."

Meetings would be monthly.

In New Zealand, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men with about 3000 registrations and about 600 deaths each year.

One in 13 men will develop prostate cancer before the age of 75.

The Prostate Cancer Support Group will meet at 7pm on Tuesday, September 9, at the Cancer Society office in Memorial Ave, Timaru. All welcome.

The Timaru Herald